Harry Morley was born in Leicester. He studied at Leicester School of Art; and later architecture at the Royal College of Art, London, winning a travelling scholarship to Italy. His experiences in Italy encouraged him to become a painter, and he attended the Académie Julian in Paris. He was appointed an official war artist in 1940 and taught for a time at St Martin’s School of Art, London. His earlier works were inspired by his travels in Italy and were influenced by the engraver, Robert Austin.